The Office of Management and Budget: The Quarterback of Evidence-Based Policy in the Federal Government

From: The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science

Volume: 678 issue: 1, page(s): 112-123

During the Obama administration, the White House Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) leadership helped to initiate and cement evidence-based policymaking reforms across the federal government, particularly in social services programs. Notable accomplishments were in the design of outcome-focused programs that use and build evidence, the strengthening of agency evaluation capacity, and interagency data-linkage projects to harness administrative data. Here, I review those accomplishments and catalog the key assets and tactics that OMB used to help federal agencies increase their use of evidence and innovation. I also assess the shortcomings and limitations of the Obama-era OMB approach and draw conclusions about what could be done in the current or a future administration to further advance evidence-based policymaking in the executive branch. Specifically, I propose that Congress and the administration should work to improve agency evaluation capacity, assess and report on agencies’ progress in using and building evidence, and establish an Intergovernmental Evidence and Innovation Council.

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